21 February 12
Posted at 10:06
Regular followers are aware that I fill my spare time by studying for a BA in Photography at the University of Westminster. Currently I am undertaking a project entitled Public/Private. Researching for that project brought to my attention a byelaw that has recently been reviewed in London. It concerns photography in Trafalagar Square (well some of it) and Parliament Gardens Field. The byelaw hasn't exactly changed but the penalties for contravention and the ability for police to become involved has been increased. The byelaw has been drawn up by Boris's boys but has yet to go through parliament.
In Trafalgar square there are a squadron of weirdly named Heritage Wardens. Here's one so you get the idea...
These Heritage Wardens constantly patrol the inner part of Trafalgar Square - an area I might point out that according to numerous brass plaques not yet nicked by the metal thieves (you know who I mean) is funded by the national lottery - i.e. the general public. I have been observing these wardens recently as I have it on good authority (Demotix, Amatuer Photographer etc) that they are picking on random photographers who they think, usually due to the size of their equipment, may be contravening the vaguelly worded byelaw appertaining to commercial photography in parts (not all) of Trafalgar Square. I have decided that they will contribute to my Private/Public project. So in carrying out that project today I witnessed nonsense beyond belief and feel it necessary to share.
Just after two o clock today I noticed a young lady with a video camera of TV proportions. So I just stood back and waited for a Heritage Warden to appear on the scene - and within minutes one did, bustling through a plethora of folk armed with every camera under the sun to single out this lady with a real big one....
They chatted in the Square - owned by the public, underneath the clock counting down the Olympic Games - sport in the UK and as far as I and I'm sure the bespectacled camera person thought, our friendly Heritage Warden was relaxed that there were no byelaws about to be broken.
The camera lady set about gathering her team and director (they were filming for Sport Relief, a charity I believe associated with sport so what better a backdrop than that famous Olympic clock?). The warden went off to chase a Japanese man with a tripod and a large Nikon and I shot off for a coffee and a pee.
An hour later I returned and what's this......?
The BBC crew are happily filming, the tourists love it (what a great advert for UK) but do I spy a jobsworth warden confronting the director?
Here he is explaining the byelaw "Basically mate , however little I know about photography, commercial gain and so on, what you got to understand is I have a uniform and a walkie talkie. So what I say goes OK?" "Sonny!"
The director goes to break the bad news to the producer - Jobsworth the Warden puts on his bulldog face and adopts his NY Cop stance.
It's a good job our lady producer has her ears covered here as Bulldog Warden verbally lays into her - to the amusement of onlookers.
The lady warden arrived and photographed the photographers in action - this is the point where she serves notice that she has evidence (a photo!!) of the BBC filming in a public place, for a public service, more importantly a sports charity underneath the Olympic clock - against the express instructions of jobsworth bulldog Warden. The BBC crew, actors, athletes and all are now marched all of thirty metres to the left to a point where an imaginary line ( I think it's similar to Palestine) demarks the part of Trafalgar Square where the Heritage Wardens have no power as byelaws do not apply.
So at much cost to the taxpayer the crew start over again, thirty metres away but no longer under that Olympic clock, they've been removed from an area owned by the taxpayer for no other reason than the whim of a Heritage Warden (a what? how does that name mean anything? how does one 'warden' our Heritage?)
The Wardens report back to their Fuhrer, another satisfactory eviction. Well at least in these difficult times the jobsworths do at least have jobs of sorts!
You can witness this kind of activity anyday in Trafalgar Square. The wardens do answer questions and give advice to tourists, even take photos of them (does the byelaw allow that??). But of late they aggressively confront anyone with a camera they take a dislike to with no regard or undertsanding of the actual byelaw. The area is ripe for them - next time you are in Trafalgar Sqaure check how many present are taking photographs....